The Denver Center for the Performing Arts kicked off their 2019/20 Broadway season on a high note with a spectacular performance of Miss Saigon. I walked into the theater not knowing quite what to expect. After reading the short synopsis online, I knew the show was roughly going to be about a love story between an American soldier and Vietnamese woman set during the Vietnam War in the 1970s, and, as I’m not a big history buff or familiar with the time, I was skeptical if I’d enjoy it. Well, come intermission my friend and I couldn’t keep quiet. To say we were enjoying the performance is an understatement. I was pleasantly surprised.
From the creators of Les Misérables, Miss Saigon follows the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim (played by Emily Bautista). Orphaned by war, Kim loses everything until she meets a man known as The Engineer (played by Red Concepción), who takes her with him to Saigon to work at his bar. Do we call it a strip club; do we call it a brothel? I’m not quite sure. With scantily clad women dancing around men and the exchange of money before pairs venture off into the night, I think it’s safe to go with the latter. Regardless of what you call it, Kim ends up meeting an American G.I. named Chris (played by Anthony Festa) on her first night and the two quickly fall in love.
A wedding ceremony ensues, but the nuptials don’t last long before the couple is torn apart by the fall of Saigon. Chris, who is forced to head back to America, doesn’t go a day without thinking of Kim, and Kim, struggling to survive on her own, never gives up hope that the two will reunite someday. Three years pass with the couple apart, until they are brought back together, with a now three-year-old Vietnamese-American son and a new American wife. It’s a heartbreaking story of love and loss in a time of war brought to life with an incredible score, stunning performances, exquisite set design, and a bit of humor (thanks in large part to The Engineer) to keep theater-goers (even those as skeptical as me) entertained throughout the show.
At two hours and 40 minutes with an intermission, time seemed to fly by for the length of the show. With scenes of sexual nature, portrayals of violence, and a strong use of language throughout, I’d recommend this show for age 16 and up. It makes a perfect girls night out for mom or date night for a theater-loving couple, but book a sitter and let the kiddos sit this one out. There are plenty of family-friendly offerings to come in the 2019/20 lineup ahead. Get your tickets now for Goodnight Moon (opening October 4) and The Spongebob Musical (opening in March of 2020), and keep an eye out for The Lion King kicking off next May.
Need to Know: Miss Saigon is playing at the Buell Theatre September 10-22. Tickets range from $35-$179.